Entry updated 27 May 2021. Tagged: Film.
Film (2017). Snowfort Pictures in association with Pfaff and Pfaff Productions, Love and Death Productions and Rustic Films. Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. Written by Justin Benson. Cast includes Justin Benson, Tate Ellington, Callie Hernandez, James Jordan, Aaron Moorhead and Lew Temple. 111 minutes. Colour.
A decade after fleeing their rural commune as teenagers, orphaned brothers Aaron (Moorhead) and Justin (Benson) are living a hand-to-mouth existence in the city. Younger brother Aaron recalls his childhood at Camp Arcadia fondly, while the older Justin remembers their estranged commune as a suicidal UFO cult. Justin gives in to his younger brother's requests to make a nostalgic visit to Camp Arcadia, and they return to the welcoming collective in the desert to find that their old companions have not aged a day.
Despite much talk about Physics equations and a coming "ascension", the cult are evasive about the true nature of their beliefs. Justin remains suspicious, while Aaron finds comfort in the rhythms of camp life. As a second moon rises in the sky, Justin and Aaron explore the wilderness and find several people trapped in Time Loops of varying length, all ending in death at the whim of an unseen "Entity" that is playing some kind of Godgame. Once dying within a dome of looping time, these victims can never escape the boundary of their resetting Pocket Universe. Camp Arcadia exists in an approximately ten year loop where the cultists eagerly give up their lives at the end of each cycle. Justin and Aaron reconcile their differences and flee before they, too, are trapped.
A low-key and low-budget piece of cosmic Horror, The Endless falls somewhere between a sequel and remake to Benson and Moorhead's first feature, Resolution (2012), whose characters reappear enmeshed in one of the Entity's time Prisons. Displaying a control of visual media alongside its demand for blood, the omnipotent Entity seems to stand in for cinema itself, feeding off familiar displays of violence and emotion. Although the Entity is never clearly glimpsed, its actions and the representations created by its worshippers are sufficiently unnerving to make The Endless one of Cinema's more successful attempts at channelling a Lovecraftian mood on screen. The film also offers an evocative vision of Hell in its glimpses of prisoners reliving their moment of death throughout eternity. Despite that, The Endless culminates in a relatively optimistic ending. We may be the playthings of uncaring Gods but life is, nonetheless, worth living. [JN]
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